Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced a tightening of coronavirus restrictions Monday, citing concerns about community transmission of the virus.
Limits of 10 people gathering indoors and 25 outdoors will now also be enforced for weddings, recreational sports and programs, and social/fraternal organizations and association clubs, beginning at 5 p.m., Friday. Howard County Recreation and Parks is also canceling all upcoming tournaments.
Retail stores, offices, restaurants, religious gatherings, indoor theaters and outdoor entertainment venues are still excluded from the county’s restrictions.
“Many of the events included in these additional limitations need time to communicate these changes to their customers and clientele,” Ball said Monday. “Especially with a holiday this week, we want to ensure organizations and businesses have enough time to make changes as necessary.”
The announcement comes after Howard County continues to break COVID-19 records. On Friday, the county reported a record 123 cases. There is currently an average rate of 26.7 cases per 100,000 residents, an increase from 19.1 cases per 100,000 last week.
“At this point, there is widespread community transmission of COVID-19, and every individual action we take is vital to controlling and limiting the further spread of this virus,” Ball said in a statement. “The alarms are sounding, and if you haven’t already, rethink any plans to host or attend a large gathering with family and friends.”
Through Sunday, Howard had four straight days of positive cases surpassing the 5% weekly average, a rate the county hasn’t experienced since June.
This news came hours before Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the state would ramp up enforcement of coronavirus restrictions ahead of the holiday weekend.
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“These important safety measures and public health orders are only effective if they are being followed and enforced,” Hogan said at the press conference. “As COVID fatigue has set in, some individuals and businesses have started to become more lax.”